Snapshots from the Mission Trip

Verbal snapshots from my youth group’s mission trip. Verbal because (a) I didn’t take any pictures since we have an awesome photographer among our volunteers; and snapshots because (b) the whole thing was too big and amazing to write a coherent narrative.

(And, for those who don’t know, we went to Wesley Woods camp in Indianola, IA, and helped for a week at their Exceptional Persons camp as “buddies” for exceptional people (over the age of 18))

  • The sweet earthy green smell of clover fields on a hot day in Iowa.
  • One of my guys running, fists pumping in the air, hooting and cheering, like he was greeting a returning victorious sports team to meet his EP upon arrival.
  • Bouncing down a hill in a wooden tractor wagon while one of our more preciously affectionate EPs hung onto me for dear life.
  • The guy who shared his expertise in taking bluegills off the hook with campers and buddies alike.
  • Kids who gave backrubs and baths and held hand until they got blisters.
  • Serving communion to a circle of over 100, some of whom don’t really get to go to church even if they want to.
  • Watching one of my girls kneel down on her hands and knees in front of her buddy to translate into sign what the communion servers had just said out loud, “Jesus loves you, Mary.”
  • Staying up late with some of the girls to talk about dating and other things that were entirely irrelevant to what we were doing that week.
  • Cursing under my breath when, after going to bed totally dismayed with the day on Wednesday, finally falling asleep, being waken at 12:00am to evacuate to the basement for a “slumber party” (code word for “tornado warning”), spending over an hour down there, and finally thinking it was time to go back to bed, the electricity went out. Then feeling like a super grumpy idiot for the cursing because the electricity went right back on.
  • The pleasant surprise that there were few mosquitoes in the area.
  • The unpleasant surprise that my boys…and my girls…and my adults…and me…were feeling really underfed by the second day and we were going to have to start doling out granola bars and apples to keep them from escaping from the camp in the middle of the night or calling in friends to drive from 5 hours away in order to bring them food.
  • Learning that, when you go out a limb and do something creative in worship, you have to be prepared for anything: at our closing worship, we built an altar to mark our experience as holy. I thought, when I asked everyone to go out and find a symbol of the week to build the altar, we’d go with the “smaller than a bread box” variety of items. 5 minutes later, I was staring at a pile that included 2 lawn chairs, a mattress, a picnic table, a park bench and several boulders. Please note that this pile was in the chapel. The indoor chapel.
  • Watching my youth group absolutely fall in love with the people they cared for all week, to the point that there were oly a handful of dry eyes when they said goodbye. And most of them were doing some version of sobbing.